4 min. read

September 19, 2022

A Female Developer's First 5 Years in Tech

The tech industry needs more women. But how easy is it for women to make it as developers?

Alex Bain cult contributor

Alex Bain, content writer

 ‘There are so many average male developers that earn a shitload of money for just sitting around and working on some repetitive problems. And you can do it too’ - Lena

Few of us are able to really see what our ideal working situation might look like in a few months, next year, let alone in five years. Scores of eager minds are forging new paths to their dream careers in development. Leipzig-based frontend engineer and Digital Humanities graduate Lena Hierzi is one of those people. Lena is developing an app for relaxation as she helps blaze new paths for women in tech, and she was kind enough to take us through her journey. 

 In addition to bringing “ethical discourse to computer science” (including through H.E.R. DAO.,) Lena is the co-founder of the upcoming app Proof of Meditation, which incentivises users to get into the habit of meditating daily. Creating buzz recently as the winner of a hackathon with more than 150 teams competing at ETHDenver (the first and biggest Ethereum conference), Proof of Meditation is set to launch this year. 

 Lena’s pathway through tech 
Years 1-2
University and bootcamp 

For Lena, the university wasn’t very helpful when it came to the practical part of coding. Her interdisciplinary study in Digital Humanities involved a few computer science courses, but according to her, the professors and T.As “didn’t take us and our work very seriously”, while at the same time they failed to give her proper feedback.

When entering the male-dominated space of Computer Studies within the university didn’t make her feel safe, her best friend encouraged her to attend a code camp (Dev Haus Leipzig). Lena’s friend, a successful frontend developer only three years after completing a bootcamp herself, is for Lena a perfect “example of how you can get into the space through a code camp, without any former technical knowledge.”  

Learning the ropes

Like most female developers, Lena comes from a vast background of work, from accounting to the service industry. In her experience, most women in tech have a similar backstory, getting into coding after studying something completely different, while most of her male colleagues have a background in computer studies. According to Lena, this is why“most well-paying jobs are still male-dominated”. Studying software development was the first time she attended higher education for a job, which “gave me a lot of confidence,” she says.  

She believes she had the perfect junior developer position at Acataport, along with four senior developers that were able to advise a budding developer on architecture, styling, algorithms, and DevOps. Although Lena will be “forever grateful for that experience,” she claims that it was foraying into blockchain that changed the game for her. “Getting the chance to empower women to get in the space, take part in hackathons…I left that job (as a junior developer) to work full-time on onboarding women into web3”, incorporating concepts like blockchain technologies, crypto, and decentralisation.

Years 3-4
Beyond beginner 

Though Lena warns of an intense start: “Maybe in the first one or two years, it will feel like you are constantly running behind”, she found her experience to be worth it after attaining a certain level of knowledge. For her, it's a small price to pay for working remotely, with flexible schedules, safe job opportunities, and an upper-level income.

Her favourite advice for baby developers? “There are so many average male developers that earn a shitload of money for just sitting around and working on some repetitive problem,” she says teasingly, “and you can do it too.” 

Year 5… and beyond.
A day in the life 

Currently, no day is like the next for Lena. One day, she’ll be having meetings with the other people in her DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation), discussing governance, advising Sub-DAOs on strategy, having partnership meetings, and consulting companies for hackathons.  

The next day she’ll be traveling to a conference, organising a brunch for Women and non-binary people, and getting as many people as possible to sign up for hackathons. “I believe they’re one of the best ways to onboard people quickly into web3 as well as empower them,” she says, citing H.E.R. DAO founder Tracey Bowen.

“Yeah, it's worth it” 

The world of programming is constantly shifting, changing, and growing. In such a dynamic field and across such a broad and complex topic- nobody will ever be a true expert. Constant learning is part of the industry, which makes it one of the easier fields to join according to Lena. You can jump in at any time.

Though development is often described as an anti-social environment, Lena finds her experience to be the contrary. Within this community, she has found out that other developers are open to sharing their knowledge. Through pair programming and open source projects, the job is “very interactive and social,” she says.

“I think it is super interesting how open source projects are one of the first areas where decentralised and remote team structures have been successfully implemented.”

For Lena working in a DAO opened up avenues she never thought possible. Her five-year journey has been one filled with challenges that she overcame with the help of the dev community. That’s why it’s important for her to grow the community and get more women into programming. Diversifying the - so far- male-dominated developer scene will benefit not only women but the entire working force. Tech jobs can be extremely beneficial for working mothers and single parents, as it gives them “safe job perspectives, flexible hours, remote work and a stable income”. That’s why firing up the conversation around female representation in this sector is an important step in that direction.

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